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God is Doing a New Thing
Stand Firm ^ | 3/20/2006 | Matt Kennedy

Posted on 03/20/2006 4:11:41 PM PST by sionnsar

On Saturday the Diocese of Tennessee attempted to elect a new bishop. The election went to the 14th ballot before the delegates voted to call it a day. The voting was deadlocked. Of the four candidates, only one, the Rev. Canon Neal Michell (whose writings on evangelism/mission were featured this article) maintained a rock solid base throughout the voting. Among the clergy he consistently won anywhere from 29 to 35 votes and among the laity, between 64-75. He never lost his significant edge among the laity.

To go to 14 ballots would be extraordinary for most dioceses, but not for Tennessee. Bishops in Tennessee must be elected by a 2/3rds margin which means voting often lasts for a long long time. Saturday was no exception.

But make no mistake, Saturday’s vote was extraordinary.

First, “the issue” overshadowed the vote lending national significance to a local election. There were essentially two solid voting blocks, the overwhelmingly orthodox laity voting for Canon Michell and the slim majority revisionist clergy who voted as a block first for the Rev. Charles and then shifted en masse to the Rev. Magness. Normally, when the laity vote consistently and overwhelmingly for a candidate, you would expect large numbers of the clergy to follow suit. That did not happen. Rather you saw two theologically opposed blocks standing firm. The revisionist clergy slogan seemed to be “Anybody but Michell” and the orthodox laity’s seemed to be “Michell or nobody”. Why? Canon Michell is an orthodox priest from an ACN diocese.

There used to be a saying/principle in secular politics: “all politics are local.” In other words national issues used to play little or no part in the average voter’s decision to vote for congressional candidate X. Whether candidate X will win funding for highway repairs, help build the new stadium, keep the Navy base etc…that’s what matters. But all that changed in 1994 when Republicans swept into power by successfully nationalizing local congressional elections. “If you want to reduce your federal income taxes, fight abortion, keep the military strong, etc…," they argued, "you need to vote Republican in Kansas Congressional District 54”

I believe the election of VGR, his consecration, the creation of the ACN, the rise of the Global South, the Windsor Report and the Dromantine Comminique, has succeeded in doing the very same thing to Episcopal Church.

Convention delegates no longer consider candidates for bishop solely with an eye to local issues…will candidate X fix the diocesan budget problems, visit my parish more than once every three years, support parish-based ministries, etc…Rather, the major questions, at least in diocese like Tennessee where there exists a significant split between orthodox and revisionist constituents, are: "Where does this candidate stand on homosexual behavior?" and, "How will this candidate lead the diocese in relation to the Anglican Communion, the Episcopal Church, and the Network?"

This change in focus carries huge ramifications for the future of the Episcopal Church. Every episcopal election is, from now on, a national election.

Second, the Tennessee balloting provides a living picture of the way the internet has revolutionized ecclesial politics. The results of each ballot were posted on the net directly from the floor. Kendall Harmon picked up the link. The resulting thread was nothing short of incredible. By the last ballot on Saturday, there were over 330 posts. I think that’s a record for T19 and it is almost certainly a record for Anglican blogdom. The speed and intensity of the posting reminded me of the gargantuan national election threads on Free Republic which can run into the tens of thousands all told. 330 is much smaller, but, given the interest, I imagine what we saw Saturday is only a taste of the traffic Kendall’s+ site and others will enjoy in June.

But the internet attention and coverage is nothing compared to the organizational weight and power the Anglican web has lent to ecclesial politics.

I was rooting around in ancient vestry minutes for my church the other day and I found a letter dated 1980 from an organization opposing women’s ordination. It was brought to the vestry and entered into the minutes by a concerned vestryman who moved that the parish join the organization. The motion was soundly defeated and nothing more was recorded other than a brief comment by the rector that such a move would “isolate” the parish from the diocese.

It struck me as I reflected on that comment how alone small parishes opposed to women’s ordination were at that time; absolutely isolated and absolutely vulnerable. Snail mail, long distance phone calls, an occasional conference, that’s all there was. If you took a stand, few would know and few could help.

How dramatically things have changed in 30 years.

Now, a little orthodox parish in the revisionist diocese of Rochester, New York can garner national attention in the wink of an eye. Now, the whole world can bear witness to hostile episcopal takeovers in Connecticut the moment they happen. Now, the entire world-wide Communion can watch the election process of a single diocese in one of the smallest provinces, live.

The firm resolve of small parishes in the face overwhelming institutional power; the steely will of orthodox clergy who risk career, collar, and future for the sake of biblical truth; the rock solid stand of the Tennessee laity against their revisionist clergy; the overall refusal by the ACN, ACC, and other organizations to submit or surrender to the neo-gnostic drive of the self-proclaimed progressives in the Episcopal Church, comes not only from the courageous faith of the individuals and communities involved, it also stems from the growing sense of interconnectedness and visible unity that the internet alone provides.

This has, thankfully, caught the revisionists completely by surprise. One of the primary reasons they thought their push to legitimize sexual sin in the church would blow over like women’s ordination is because they failed to account for the orthodox web. It is, I hope and pray, one of the reasons they will continue to fail.

Meanwhile, at the very least, revisionist deeds formerly done in the darkness are being brought to light and secrets once whispered in the alleyways are being proclaimed from the rooftops. The internet is changing the face of North American Anglicanism.

God is, indeed, doing a new thing.

TOPICS: Mainline Protestant

1 posted on 03/20/2006 4:11:44 PM PST by sionnsar
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To: ahadams2; axegrinder; AnalogReigns; Uriah_lost; Condor 63; Fractal Trader; Zero Sum; ...
Traditional Anglican ping, continued in memory of its founder Arlin Adams.

FReepmail sionnsar if you want on or off this moderately high-volume ping list (typically 3-9 pings/day).
This list is pinged by sionnsar, Huber and newheart.

Resource for Traditional Anglicans:
More articles here.

Humor: The Anglican Blue (by Huber)

Speak the truth in love. Eph 4:15

2 posted on 03/20/2006 4:12:43 PM PST by sionnsar (†† | Libs: Celebrate MY diversity! | Iran Azadi 2006)
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To: sionnsar
Two questions from a nonEpiscopalian:

1. What does "ACN" represent?

2. When will voting resume?

3 posted on 03/20/2006 8:51:14 PM PST by Hebrews 11:6 (Do you REALLY believe that (1) God is, and (2) God is good?)
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To: sionnsar

So what do you think will happen ----Rev. Canon Neal Michell? or the deluge?

4 posted on 03/20/2006 8:54:25 PM PST by eleni121 ('Thou hast conquered, O Galilean!' (Julian the Apostate))
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To: Hebrews 11:6
"Anglican Communion Network" -- an association of "orthodox" North American Anglican churches, mostly Episcopal.

I believe voting will resume this coming weekend -- I vaguely recall seeing that in some report...

5 posted on 03/21/2006 7:48:23 AM PST by sionnsar (†† | Libs: Celebrate MY diversity! | Iran Azadi 2006)
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To: eleni121

This is no educated guess, but I'm going to guess the Rev. Canon Michell or no resolution. There is too much at stake and people know it.

6 posted on 03/21/2006 7:50:28 AM PST by sionnsar (†† | Libs: Celebrate MY diversity! | Iran Azadi 2006)
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